Coach’s focus on Ward not oppenent

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NEIL Fannan has never been one to overdo the ‘homework’ ahead of a big fight.

A lot of graft, yes, just not a great amount of study time on the rival in the opposite corner.

It’s not a lack of respect of the opponent, more the case that he wants to concentrate on getting things right in his own gym.

Not that there is much he and boxer Martin Ward could do anyway ahead of the Commonwealth championship battle with Gabriel Laryea on Saturday.

There is little in the way of footage of the African star. None in fact.

Fannan told SportMail: “We’ve only ever really studied one fight and that was Lee Haskins [for the British title in April].

“Whether I’m being naive or not I don’t know, but I’ve never been one, for any of my fighters, to study and say ‘when he does that, we’ll do this’.

“I’ll have a look at them and have an idea of them but I’ve always been a believer in ‘sharpen your own tools and know you can do your own thing well’.”

When Ward met the media at a press conference last month at the Newcastle Centre for Sport, the 25-year-old joked that Laryea was an “international man of mystery”.

While said in jest, Ward is not a million miles away from the truth.

Laryea has spent his entire career in Ghana. In fact, he’s only boxed twice outside his home city of Accra.

His record is an impressive one, 16 wins and two draws from 20 bouts, 11 of his victories coming inside the distance.

Laryea earned his shot at the vacant Commonwealth title by winning a wide points decision against Cobbina Johnson in a final eliminator last December.

Fannan knows that Accra and Ghana are synonymous with hard lads and hard hitters.

Azumah “Zoom Zoom” Nelson, regarded by many as one of the greatest African fighters of all time, is from the Ghanaian capital.

So too was Anyetei Laryea, who ended the Commonwealth super-bantamweight reign of his former boxer, Argie Ward, in brutal fashion back in October 2007 in Peterlee.

“He was good and of the same second name as the lad Martin’s fighting,” Fanan told SportMail.

“Nine times out of 10, the African boxers are strong, come-forward fighters.

“Gabriel Laryea is the mandatory challenger, it’s been us who have sneaked in.

“He’s earned the right to be here and in some ways, we haven’t.

“I’m not saying Martin does not deserve it, he’s been one of the busiest banatamweights in the country and he’s worthy of this chance.

“Laryea has won an eliminator for this and has done everything he’s had to do to get this contest.

“I’m sure he’ll be a worthy challenger.”